Survival in hard economic times demands you get more bang for your buck, wherever you can. One area includes reducing your food bill, by knowing that the higher the nutrient density, the less you need to eat.
So, how do you measure nutrient density? The most widely favored method uses a refractometer that indirectly measures the sugar content in an aqueous solution, based on light refraction.
Back in the 1800s, German mathematician Adolf Brix prepared pure sucrose solutions of known strength, measured their specific gravities and prepared tables of percent sucrose by weight vs. measured specific gravity. The unit for specific gravity of liquids, degree Brix (°Bx), is named after him, though other mathematicians also developed similar tables of specific gravity of sucrose at different concentrations.
For nearly 200 years, brewers and vintners have used these tables, as modified over the years, to remediate their soils to ensure the best hops or grapes. But in the 1960s and 1970s, biochemist Dr. Carey Reams popularized the use of a modified Brix Chart to determine nutrient density of fruits and vegetables. He gained a loyal following among farmers and gardeners intent on providing the highest quality produce on the market or table.
John Kohler from GrowingYourGreens.com demonstrates how to use the Brix Chart, by using a hand-held refractometer. In the below video, he shows how organic produce from the grocery store can be far less nutrient dense than what you can grow in your own backyard or indoor container.
In the last half of the video, Kohler recommends several products to improve your soil and thus improve the Brix Score of your produce. The Bionutrient Food Assn. advises that crops with a high Brix Score are more pest-resistant, requiring fewer external inputs for chemical farmers and a pure boon for organic gardeners.
Refractometers range in price from $25 to over $300, and can be purchased from ag labs or home and garden shops. With a small investment, you can test your fresh produce, whether from the grocer or your yard and opt for the most nutrient dense foods you can find or grow.
Rady Ananda is the creator of Food Freedom News and COTO Report, Rady Ananda's work has appeared in several online and print publications, including four books. With a B.S. in Natural Resources from Ohio State University’s School of Agriculture, Rady tweets @geobear7 and @RadysRant.